Decision made to combine air pollution referendum, local elections

The referendum on combating air pollution was proposed by opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker and Taichung Mayor candidate Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕).

Taipei, Oct. 3 (CNA)-The Central Election Commission (CEC) has decided to hold a proposed referendum on combating air pollution in conjunction with local elections slated for Nov. 24, after confirming that the number of public endorsements submitted for the proposal passed the legal threshold required to hold a vote.

The referendum was proposed by opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) and asks people: “Do you agree that the electricity output of thermal power plants should be lowered ‘by at least 1 percent on average each year’?”

Lu is running as the KMT candidate in the mayoral election in Taichung, home to the coal-fired Taichung Power Plant, the largest of its kind in Taiwan.

Lu’s team collected and delivered to the CEC a total of 497,193 public endorsements for the referendum proposal, the commission said a few days ago. However, subsequent checks by household registration authorities found that only 314,345 endorsement signatures met Referendum Act regulations.

A total of 182,848 endorsements were disqualified, including 77,194 that were likely the result of forgery and another 11,849 “signed” by dead people, the commission said.

Despite the irregularities, the number of qualified endorsements remains more than the 281,745 signatures required for the air pollution referendum to be held in conjunction with the year-end elections, the commission said. As a result, the proposal was adopted after a commission meeting on Tuesday, it said.

However, the meeting also decided to take legal action against whoever forged the signatures, CEC Vice Chairman Chen Chao-chien (陳朝建) said.

Under the Referendum Act, citizens aged 18 and above are eligible to vote in a public referendum, whereas the minimum age to vote in a regular election is 20.

The election commission estimates that 600,000 people aged 18-20 will be eligible to cast a referendum ballot for the first time, but not to vote for public officials in the year-end elections.